by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky
May 3, 2011
There is evidence of gross media manipulation
and falsification from the outset of the protest movement in southern Syria
on March 17th.
The Western media has presented the events in Syria as part of the broader
Arab pro-democracy protest movement, spreading spontaneously from Tunisia,
to Egypt, and from Libya to Syria.
Media coverage has focused on the Syrian police and armed forces, which are
accused of indiscriminately shooting and killing unarmed "pro-democracy"
demonstrators. While these police shootings did indeed occur, what the media
failed to mention is that among the demonstrators there were armed gunmen as
well as snipers who were shooting at both the security forces and the
The death figures presented in the reports are often unsubstantiated. Many
of the reports are "according to witnesses".
The images and video footages
aired on Al Jazeera and CNN do not always correspond to the events which are
being covered by the news reports.
There is certainly cause for social unrest and
mass protest in Syria:
unemployment has increased in recent year, social
conditions have deteriorated, particularly since the adoption in 2006 of
sweeping economic reforms under IMF guidance.
The IMF's "economic medicine"
includes austerity measures, a freeze on wages, the deregulation of the
financial system, trade reform and privatization. (See IMF Syrian Arab
IMF Article IV Consultation Mission's Concluding
With a government dominated by the minority
Alawite (an offshoot of Shia
Islam), Syria is no "model society" with regard to civil rights and freedom
of expression. It nonetheless constitutes the only (remaining) independent
secular state in the Arab world. Its populist, anti-Imperialist and secular
base is inherited from the dominant Baath party, which integrates Muslims,
Christians and Druze.
Moreover, in contrast to Egypt and Tunisia, in Syria there is considerable
popular support for President Bashar Al Assad. The large rally in Damascus
on March 29, "with tens of thousands of supporters" (Reuters) of President
Al Assad is barely mentioned.
Yet in an unusual twist, the images and video
footage of several pro-government events were used by the Western media to
convince international public opinion that the President was being
confronted by mass anti-government rallies.
Tens of thousands of Syrians gather for a pro-government rally at the
bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011.
Syrians display a giant national flag with a picture of Syria's President
Bashar al-Assad during a
pro-government rally at the central bank square in Damascus March 29, 2011.
The "Epicenter" of the
Daraa - A Small Border Town in southern Syria
What is the nature of the protest movement?
From what sectors of Syrian
society does it emanate?
What triggered the violence?
What is the cause of the deaths?
The existence of an organized insurrection composed of armed gangs involved
in acts of killing and arson has been dismissed by the Western media,
despite evidence to the contrary.
The demonstrations did not start in Damascus, the nation's capital. At the
outset, the protests were not integrated by a mass movement of citizens in
The demonstrations started in
Daraa, a small border town of 75,000
inhabitants, on the Syrian Jordanian border, rather than in Damascus or
Aleppo, where the mainstay of organized political opposition and social
movements are located. (Daraa is a small border town comparable e.g. to
Plattsburgh, NY on the US-Canadian border).
The Associated Press report (quoting unnamed "witnesses" and "activists")
describes the early protests in Daraa as follows:
The violence in Daraa, a city of about
300,000 near the border with Jordan, was fast becoming a major challenge
for President Bashar Assad, .... Syrian police launched a relentless
assault Wednesday on a neighborhood sheltering anti-government
protesters [Daraa], fatally shooting at least 15 in an operation that
began before dawn, witnesses said.
At least six were killed in the early morning attack on the al-Omari
mosque in the southern agricultural city of Daraa, where protesters have
taken to the streets in calls for reforms and political freedoms,
witnesses said. An activist in contact with people in Daraa said police
shot another three people protesting in its Roman-era city center after
dusk. Six more bodies were found later in the day, the activist said.
As the casualties mounted, people from the nearby villages of Inkhil,
Jasim, Khirbet Ghazaleh and al-Harrah tried to march on Daraa Wednesday
night but security forces opened fire as they approached, the activist
said. It was not immediately clear if there were more deaths or
(AP, March 23, 2011)
The AP report inflates the numbers:
presented as a city of 300,000 when in fact its population is 75,000;
"protesters gathered by the thousands", "casualties mounted".
The report is silent on the death of policemen which in the West invariably
makes the front page of the tabloids.
The deaths of the policemen are important in assessing what actually
happened. When there are police casualties, this means that there is an
exchange of gunfire between opposing sides, between policemen and
Who are these "demonstrators" including roof top snipers who were targeting
Israeli and Lebanese news reports (which acknowledge the police deaths)
provide a clearer picture of what happened in Daraa on March 17-18.
The Israel National News Report (which cannot be
accused of being biased in favor of Damascus) reviews these same events as
Seven police officers and at least four
demonstrators in Syria have been killed in continuing violent clashes
that erupted in the southern town of Daraa last Thursday.
...On Friday police opened fire on armed protesters killing four and
injuring as many as 100 others. According to one witness, who spoke to
the press on condition of anonymity,
"They used live ammunition
immediately - no tear gas or anything else."
...In an uncharacteristic gesture intended to ease tensions the
government offered to release the detained students, but seven police
officers were killed, and the Baath Party Headquarters and courthouse
were torched, in renewed violence on Sunday.
Syria: Seven Police
Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests, Israel National News, Arutz Sheva,
March 21, 2011)
The Lebanese news report, quoting various
sources, also acknowledges the killings of seven policemen in Daraa:
were killed "during clashes between the security forces and protesters...
They got killed trying to drive away protesters during demonstration in Dara’a"
The Lebanese Ya Libnan report quoting Al Jazeera also acknowledged that
"burned the headquarters of the Baath Party
and the court house in Dara’a".
These news reports of the events in Daraa
confirm the following:
This was not a "peaceful protest" as
the Western media. Several of the "demonstrators" had
fire arms and were using them against the police: "The police opened
fire on armed protesters killing four".
From the initial casualty figures
(Israel News), there were more policemen than demonstrators who were
killed: 7 policemen killed versus 4 demonstrators. This is
significant because it suggests that the police force might have
been initially outnumbered by a well organized armed gang. According
to Syrian media sources, there were also snipers on rooftops which
were shooting at both the police and the protesters.
What is clear from these initial reports is that
many of the demonstrators were not demonstrators but terrorists involved in
premeditated acts of killing and arson.
The title of the Israeli news report summarizes
Syria: Seven Police Killed, Buildings Torched in Protests.
The Daraa "protest movement" on March 18 had all the appearances of a staged
event involving, in all likelihood, covert support to Islamic terrorists by
Mossad and/or Western intelligence. Government sources point to the role of
Salafist groups (supported by Israel)
Other reports have pointed to the role of Saudi Arabia in financing the
What has unfolded in Daraa in the weeks following the initial violent
clashes on 17-18 March, is the confrontation between the police and the
armed forces on the one hand and armed units of terrorists and snipers on
the other which have infiltrated the protest movement.
Reports suggest that these terrorists are integrated by Islamists. There is
no concrete evidence as to which Islamic organizations are behind the
terrorists and the government has not released corroborating information as
to who these groups are.
Both the Syrian
Muslim Brotherhood (whose leadership is in exile in the UK)
and the banned Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation), among others have
paid lip service to the protest movement.
Hizb ut-Tahir (led in the 1980s by
Syrian born Omar Bakri Muhammad) tends to "dominate the British Islamist
scene” according to Foreign Affairs.
Hizb ut-Tahir is also considered to be of
strategic importance to Britain's Secret Service MI6, in the pursuit of
Anglo-American interests in the Middle East and Central Asia. (Is
Hizb-ut-Tahrir another project of British MI6?).
Supporters and members of
Islamist party ''Hizb Ut-Tahrir''
wave their party's flags and
chant slogans during a protest in Tripoli, northern Lebanon,
to express solidarity with
Syria's protesters, April 22, 2011.
REUTERS/ Mohamed Azakir
Hizb ut-Tahrir anti-Assad
rally in Tripoli, Lebanon (40 km from Syrian border), April 22, 2011.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is banned in Syria
Syria is a secular Arab country, a society of
religious tolerance, where Muslims and Christians have for several centuries
lived in peace.
Hizb ut-Tahrir (the Party of Liberation) is a radical
political movement committed to the creation of an Islamic caliphate. In
Syria, its avowed objective is to destabilize the secular state.
Since the Soviet-Afghan war, Western intelligence agencies as well as
Israel's Mossad have consistently used various Islamic terrorist
organizations as "intelligence assets". Both Washington and its indefectible
British ally have provided covert support to "Islamic terrorists" in
Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and Libya, etc. as a means to triggering ethnic
strife, sectarian violence and political instability.
The staged protest movement in Syria is modeled on Libya. The insurrection
in Eastern Libya is integrated by the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG)
which is supported by MI6 and the CIA.
The ultimate objective of the Syria protest
movement, through media lies and fabrications, is to create divisions within
Syrian society as well as justify an eventual "humanitarian intervention".
Armed Insurrection in
An armed insurrection integrated by Islamists and supported covertly by
Western intelligence is central to an understanding of what is occurring on
The existence of an armed insurrection is not mentioned by the Western
media. If it were to be acknowledged and analyzed, our understanding of
unfolding events would be entirely different.
What is mentioned profusely is that the armed forces and the police are
involved in the indiscriminate killing of protesters.
The deployment of the armed forces including tanks in Daraa is directed
against an organized armed insurrection, which has been active in the border
city since March 17-18.
Casualties are being reported which also include the death of policemen and
In a bitter irony, the Western media acknowledges the police/soldier deaths
while denying the existence of an armed insurrection.
The key question is how does the media explain these deaths of soldiers and
Without evidence, the reports suggest authoritatively that the police is
shooting at the soldiers and vice versa the soldiers are shooting on the
In a April 29 Al Jazeera report, Daraa is
described as "a city under siege".
"Tanks and troops control all roads in and
out. Inside the city, shops are shuttered and nobody dare walk the once
bustling market streets, today transformed into the kill zone of rooftop
Unable to crush the people who first dared rise up against him - neither
with the secret police, paid thugs or the special forces of his
brother's military division - President Bashar al-Assad has sent
thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Deraa for an
operation the regime wants nobody in the world to see.
Though almost all communication channels with Deraa have been cut,
including the Jordanian mobile service that reaches into the city from
just across the border, Al Jazeera has gathered firsthand accounts of
life inside the city from residents who just left or from eyewitnesses
inside who were able to get outside the blackout area.
The picture that emerges is of a dark and deadly security arena, one
driven by the actions of the secret police and their rooftop snipers, in
which soldiers and protestors alike are being killed or wounded, in
which cracks are emerging in the military itself, and in which is
created the very chaos which the regime uses to justify its escalating
(Daraa, a City under Siege, IPS / Al
Jazeera, April 29, 2011)
The Al Jazeera report borders on the absurd.
"Tanks and troops control all roads in and
out", "thousands of Syrian soldiers and their heavy weaponry into Daraa"
This situation has prevailed for several weeks.
This means that bona fide protesters who are not already inside Daraa cannot
People who live in the city are in their homes:
"nobody dares walk... the streets".
If nobody dares walk the streets where are the
Who is in the streets? According to Al Jazeera, the protesters are in the
streets together with the soldiers, and both the protesters and the soldiers
are being shot at by "plain clothes secret police", by "paid thugs" and
government sponsored snipers.
The impression conveyed in the report is that these casualties are
attributed to infighting between the police and the military.
But the report also says that the soldiers (in the "thousands") control all
roads in and out of the city, but they are being shot upon by the plain
clothed secret police.
The purpose of this web of media deceit, namely outright fabrications -
where soldiers are being killed by police and "government snipers" - is to
deny the existence of armed terrorist groups. The later are integrated by
snipers and "plain clothed terrorists" who are shooting at the police, the
Syrian armed forces and local residents.
These are not spontaneous acts of terror; they are carefully planned and
coordinated attacks. In recent developments, according to a Xinhua report
(April 30, 2011),
armed "terrorist groups" "attacked the
housing areas for servicemen" in Daraa province, "killing a sergeant and
While the government bears heavy responsibility
for its mishandling of the military-police operation, including the deaths
of civilians, the reports confirm that the armed terrorist groups had also
opened fire on protesters and local residents.
The casualties are then blamed on the armed
forces and the police and the Bashar Al Assad government is portrayed by
"the international community" as having ordered countless atrocities.
The fact of the matter is that foreign journalists are banned from reporting
inside Syria, to the extent that much of the information including the
number of casualties is obtained from the unverified accounts of
It is in the interest of the US-NATO alliance to portray the events in Syria
as a peaceful protest movement which is being brutally repressed by a
The Syrian government may be autocratic.
It is certainly not a model of democracy but
neither is the US administration, which is characterized by,
...not to mention its "bloodless" "humanitarian
"The U.S. and its NATO allies have, in
addition to U.S. Sixth Fleet and NATO Active Endeavor military assets
permanently deployed in the Mediterranean, warplanes, warships and
submarines engaged in the assault against Libya that can be used against
Syria at a moment's notice.
On April 27 Russia and China evidently prevented the U.S. and its NATO
allies from pushing through an equivalent of Resolution 1973 against
Syria in the Security Council, with Russian deputy ambassador to the UN
Alexander Pankin stating that the current situation in Syria "does not
present a threat to international peace and security."
Syria is Russia's last true partner in the
Mediterranean and the Arab world and hosts one of only two Russian
overseas naval bases, that at Tartus. (The other being in Ukraine's
Libyan Scenario For Syria:
Towards A US-NATO "Humanitarian Intervention" directed against Syria?
Global Research, April 30, 2011)
The ultimate purpose is to trigger sectarian
violence and political chaos within Syria by covertly supporting Islamic
What lies ahead?
The longer term US foreign policy perspective is "regime change" and the
destabilization of Syria as an independent nation-state, through a covert
process of "democratization" or through military means.
Syria is on the list of "rogue states", which are targeted for a U.S. military
As confirmed by former NATO commander
General Wesley Clark
"[The] Five-year campaign plan [includes]...
a total of seven countries, beginning with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon,
Libya, Iran, Somalia and Sudan"
(Pentagon official quoted by General
The objective is to weaken the structures of the
secular State while justifying an eventual UN sponsored "humanitarian
The latter, in the first instance, could take
the form of a reinforced embargo on the country (including sanctions) as
well as the freezing of Syrian bank assets in overseas foreign financial
While a US-NATO military intervention in the immediate future seems highly
unlikely, Syria is nonetheless on the Pentagon's military roadmap, namely an
eventual war on Syria has been contemplated both by Washington and Tel Aviv.
If it were to occur, at some future date, it would lead to escalation.
Israel would inevitably be involved.
The entire Middle East Central Asian
region from the Eastern Mediterranean to the Chinese-Afghan border would
Humanitarian Intervention in Syria and Libya
by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky